Officials promote lower-cost, short-term health plans

Pearl Mccarthy
August 4, 2018

Earlier Wednesday, the Trump administration said it's clearing the way for health insurers to sell short-term plans as a low-priced alternative to pricey Obama-law policies for people struggling with high premiums.

The lawsuit argued that because Congress has not repealed the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is legally known, the U.S. Constitution requires Trump to take care that it, like other laws, is "faithfully executed".

"Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans have seen insurance premiums rise and choices dwindle", HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. In fact, these plans look a lot like the often all-but-useless private health plans that littered the individual market before the ACA reined in predatory and discriminatory insurance industry practices. Since these plans are considerably more affordable, more people will be able to insure against medical catastrophes.

Ronnell Nolan is CEO of the group Health Agents for America.

Coleman says insurance benefits under short-term plans will be better with the three-month restriction gone. It also adds a new twist: If they wish, insurers can make the short-term plans renewable for up to three years.

But short-term insurance clearly has fewer benefits. Both can have bigger price differences between older customers and younger ones.

Experts say the plans may appeal to healthier adults who don't need coverage for a chronic disease but want to spend less on health insurance premiums.

Zach Klein, the city attorney for Columbus, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told reporters Thursday that the Trump administration's cuts to ACA funding and promotion of unregulated health plans that violate the ACA will place a heavy burden on his city's resources.

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Have you ever had a short-term insurance policy?

That is the central change the Trump administration is making now, allowing the plans to last up to 364 days and letting insurers renew them for as many as three years - a renewal that the ACA has forbidden.

Short-term plans join "association health plans" for small businesses as the administration promotes lower-cost health care options that cover less. The Administration predicts some 600,000 people will sign up next year, roughly 100,000 of whom were previously uninsured.

But that won't matter starting in January, when the penalty will disappear as a result of a tax overhaul that the Republican-led Congress adopted late a year ago. 'They are not going to cover anything related to a pre-existing condition.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY says Democrats will "do everything in our power" to stop the Trump administration's expansion of short-term health insurance plans. Three-quarters of respondents to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll said it is "very important" that Obamacare's rule prohibiting insurers from denying coverage due to a person's medical history remains law, while almost that many feel the same way about banning insurers from charging sick people higher rates. They include more than 210,000 in Oregon. None covered maternity care, slightly more than one-quarter had prescription drug coverage, and slightly more than half provided mental health benefits - although such benefits typically have limits.

"What President Trump is trying to do, is make more affordable options available to people ... and they may be as much as 50% to 80% cheaper than the Obamacare exchange plans".

Baldwin, a member of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said Trump has been sabotaging the health system "by undermining guaranteed health protection and access to affordable care", which has resulted in "severe instability", and notable premium spikes in Wisconsin earlier this year. And there's no federal guarantee short-term coverage can be renewed. It disputes predictions that it would harm ACA marketplaces.

"The insurance company will ask you a series of questions about your health", Moriello said.

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